Gordon Ramsay: MasterChef

Why should you watch Master Chef, which debuts on July 27, 2010, on Fox?

There is a moment in the premier show, when a Korean-American home cook, “Michael,” prepares Duck Ssam for Gordon Ramsay, Joe Bastianich, and Graham Elliot (Bowles).

All three remark on how well he moves, how wonderful the dish tastes, and how they have been searching for just this kind of masterful home cook.

Graham adds “That is like sex in my mouth.” to underscore how good the dish is compared to a bowl of beer cheese soup another contestant prepared.

Who wouldn’t look forward to watching the next David Chang be discovered as the contestant leaves the judging room with his new apron and his brothers jump for joy into his arms?

There is a sense that he brings a natural gift for cooking as well as a sense of taste and a desire to learn more – which one hopes is shared any viewer tuning in to a cooking program.

Why skip this show, then?

That’s right: skip it.

Because that was about the only honest moment.

Better to ask: why haven’t the show’s producers found more home cooks like Michael, who really do have some talent?

Most of MasterChef is about the contestants’ background stories, not the quality of the food they cook or their potential to get better. At times, it seems, the more pathetic the story, the better the chances of staying on the show. The first episode is how the judges choose 30 home cooks from a pool of 100 enthusiastic cooks, who chant things like “Bring it!” or “Bring it on!”. The 30 will go on to compete for $250,000 and their own published cookbook. On the show, they’ll cook for a wedding reception, feed troops, and be tested in many other ways.

There’s the African-American, with a blond wife and little boy, who forgets to season his Mac n’Cheese, and yet still manages to get one of the judges to say that he cooked with love. There is the physician whose mother passed away and left her a book of recipes, who manages to stay on the show despite her heavy pasta. There is the cocky, obnoxious guy who somehow manages to appeal to the judges, despite the audience cringing at his shtick. Many of the contestants get hugs and advice to “cook with your heart.”

MasterChef comes from a UK and Australian hit show that appears in 120 countries worldwide. It is meant to make the audience feel like anyone can become a master chef if they have the right stuff. The fact is, many great chefs do not go to culinary school — and do learn much by cooking with their parents and their own families, before going on to apprentice in a restaurant.

If the episodes contained more latent talent and showed some techniques that make cooks better, then it might be worth ploughing through a whole lot of tear-jerk stories just to see a glimpse of Gordon teaching, Graham boasting, and Joe looking both bored and grim.

Super Chef is waiting for more television shows that focus on the food prepared–that leave viewers with tears anticipating great food, not relief that another episode is finally over.

5 comments on “Gordon Ramsay: MasterChef
  1. Bruce says:

    What is their audition process?

  2. sorry: don’t know

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